CFA 16/APR/09-01


West Potomac Park Levee Project
17th Street, south of Constitution Avenue, NW
United States

National Park Service
West Potomac Park Levee Project
Improvements to the flood protection levee system including a new floodgate across 17th Street
Review Type
Previous Review


Dear Ms. O'Dell:

In its meeting of 16 April, the Commission of Fine Arts reviewed the design for improvements to the West Potomac Park Levee south of Constitution Avenue, NW. The Commission expressed appreciation for the project team's thorough study and attention to detail, and approved the final design for Phase I at the location proposed.

The Commission urged consideration of the larger planning issues facing the National Mall, such as the desirability of adopting a consistent approach to earthworks on the Mall and the need for coordination of new and existing walkways. The Commission requested further study of the character of the exposed levee walls so that they are appropriate within the larger context of the National Mall and incorporate the physical expression of the levee's technical requirements. As precedents for the stonework, the Commission favored the new walls of the Washington Monument Grounds and the walls of the Overlook Terrace as opposed to the Georgetown canal walls, which are too distant to serve as a suitable reference for the Mall. The Commission recommended that the design team carefully consider how to relate the character of the stone cladding to the exposed concrete framework, commenting that the stone selection, pattern, and finish must be informed by the details of its intersection with the visible concrete joints, caps, and end abutments. They supported the proposal to batter the walls, while commenting that a graduated treatment of the stone finish may be too mannered for an engineering structure.

In order to judge the scale and character of the levee wall, the Commission requested a large-scale mockup of a section of the wall to illustrate the design of the stone cladding and address the detailing issues described above. The Commission looks forward to reviewing Phase II of the Levee Project, including walkways and a detailed landscaping plan. As always, the staff is available to assist you.


/s/Thomas E. Luebke, AIA

Margaret O'Dell, Regional Director
National Park Service, National Capital Region
1100 Ohio Drive, SW
Washington, DC 20242

cc: Anita Hairston, D.C. Office of Planning
Peter May, National Park Service
David Rubin, OLIN